Thursday, August 08, 2013

Obama's ‘il dolce far niente’ - the sweetness of doing nothing


Leave it to the Italians to define the Obama presidency.  Of course in Italy "doing nothing" means taking the time to enjoy life unlike the Americans who are supposed to be so motivated in life they are not capable of doing nothing, and that includes being happy, less stressful and having time for your family.
With over half our population on prescription drugs for stress, I think the Italians just might have something.  When I worked for the governor in New Jersey I had an Italian secretary, a true Joisey girl, who introduced me to the wonderful world of ‘il dolce far niente’ through her immediate and extended family in the Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey.
The Ironbound is one of the most incredible pockets of Old World cultural preservation anywhere in America.  I know there are Italian and Portuguese sections but I never got beyond the Italian.  We had a governor's office in Newark, the main office being in Trenton, and for a time I was assigned to the Jersey Department of Energy located in Newark.
Over a period of six years I got to witness the art of sweet nothingness where you could drop into a dinner of 15 underway without notice and have plenty to eat.  At the table the language was more often than not Old World Italian yet you always knew you were welcome and appreciated.
As for topics discussed around the table, anything under the sun as long as you contained your passion out of respect for those who might disagree.  I was a very motivated and well-informed chief of staff so I was always prepared to talk about the state, the federal government or international affairs.
It seems the Italians had such few expectations for our governments they did not spend much time on the subject.  It was also a potential source for stress.
One time one of the many uncles around the table asked me what I did for the Energy Department and I said that week we were working on the clean up of Three Mile Island, the worst nuclear accident in American history.  He rolled his eyes and made some comment which I assumed meant "and that is another reason we don't talk about the government."
Makes sense.  Family dinners are no place to discuss nuclear catastrophes and TMI is a lot more likely to stress out someone than comparing pastas.  Everyone should have occasion to join an extended Italian family for a three hour dinner before they start taking those prescription mind benders.
In time I went to the marriage of my former secretary in the largest Basilica in America and to the wedding party where lobster was an hors d'oeuvre sitting on carts around the grounds of the party palace.  There is nothing like an ethnic Italian wedding.
As for Obama, well he has the "sweetness of doing nothing" down pat but it costs the taxpayer over a billion dollars a year for our president to do nothing.
In the process he continues to set back international relations week by week as all the "Arab Spring" incidents have backfired on America.  We can't even leave Iraq and Afghanistan behind after a decade of wars without alienating someone and leaving civil unrest in our place.
Forget about the two nations in the best position to help us with Syria, Iran or North Korea, our mortal enemies if you are to believe White House spin.  Russia and China are so put off by Obama that no problems between our nations have been resolved and they have blocked us from using the United Nations to punish the rogue trio.
Then there is the forever lingering "financial crisis."  Our greed seems to have spilled over to the rest of the world and we nearly brought down the global financial system in a series of amazing rip offs of government.
Anyone who believed the American financial system, the most powerful by a long ways in the world, ever intended to serve the public interest as opposed to their own selfish interest is obviously under-medicated.
As near as I can tell it costs us about $27 million a week for the president and his White House operation.  That is a lot to pay someone to do nothing.  Throw in the cost of congress and military protecting us around the world and we are suddenly paying about $19 billion a week.
The World Health Organization estimates we spent $8608 per capita on health care in 2011.  In other words, about $2.7 trillion, or put in other terms, another $50-60 billion a week.
I don't care how you cut it, we seem to be paying way, way too much for people to enjoy ‘il dolce far niente’ on a 24/7 basis.  People like that need a wake up call, like being dropped kicked through the end zone goalposts.
So health care prices including medication, treatment, hospitals and health insurance continue to increase and we have a long ways to go to even begin to implement the law.  Nowhere in the law do we address in a meaningful way the cost of health care although the law talks a lot about Medicare fraud.
Unfortunately, the biggest fraud in Medicare is not even addressed.  When it comes to diseases and drugs profit is the first consideration and there is no profit in getting you well.  Instead we get a battery of meaningless tests to prove what we do not have, all the while being given multiple prescriptions of dangerous drugs to keep us happy during the many tests.
There is nothing good about a system where healing comes way down the priority list.  Nor is there when a system can spend tens of thousands of dollars or more when cat scans or other exotic tests are given.
Our medical community lives in a constant conflict of interest and makes money off everything they do to keep you sick, keep you medicated and keep you believing that doctors and medical people are the most trustworthy people in America.
So maybe our president and congress can enjoy ‘il dolce far niente’ because they have conditioned us to accept nothing as good for the country.  Just think of how many things would be wrong if they actually passed more laws and did something.
One the other hand, we would all be a lot happier and better off spiritually and morally at least if we did follow the advice of our Italian friends,‘il dolce far niente’, enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing.  

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